SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — A barrier to receiving quality healthcare can be money, transportation and even language.

A student at the helm of a Siouxland clinic is helping bridge that gap with Spanish-speaking patients in this week’s edition of Siouxland Stories.

“I’m so proud of our clinic and the students here, and the professors that made it possible. This is pretty much a student-run clinic and the things that we do here are incredible,” Julia Black said.

Julia Black is talking about the pro bono clinic run through Briar Cliff University, of the 120 like it nationwide. The North Central Region Consortia was founded through the hard work of Black.

“After speaking with another fellow student, she was absolutely enamored with what we were doing in our clinic with regards to foreign language,” said Julia . “She asked me to found the North Central Region Consortia, which was such an amazing opportunity. I think our school feels really blessed to be able to do that and unify the student pro bono networks that are in the area and continue to grow and expand to help those in need with foreign language.”

A major focus is Spanish, commonly spoken by a large population here in Siouxland, but not by healthcare providers.

“Our emphasis was on the foreign language because that’s s the consortia didn’t have good research for. And Julia was able to help meet with the students to make that happen. And we’re continuing to see where that will go and lead to in future years as well,” Dr. Brian Wienck said.

This type of work is something Julia has always been excited about.

“After living in Costa Rica, Chile and Spain, I learned that language should never be a barrier for us as physical therapists. That, we should be providing all the services they need so they feel comfortable,” Julia said.

“We’ll do everything from patients who’ve suffered a stroke, learning how to walk again, learning how to breathe properly, even pick up things for the ground, little things that you don’t think of make a big difference in our lives,” Julia said.

All to make a bigger difference for patients who before coming to this clinic couldn’t communicate their issues to get the care they need.

“Just to see patients walk again for the first time. We had one patient who was Spanish speaking, it brought me to tears. She had never walked, she just had surgery and her doctor told her she’d never be able to walk again. I think there was a lot of miscommunication with the Spanish and English barrier. And to see her stand up and start walking was just such an incredible,” Julia said.

“I was able to go to the national conference with one of my classmates, Alex, and we were able to be guest speakers and talk about the good things we’re doing at our clinic, implementing foreign language services and how to use an interpreter and honestly, how to respect people that may come from different cultures,” Julia said.

A lot of universities with students run pro bono clinics have reached out with wanting to know how to respect different cultures, and how do we, as physical therapists, treat different people who may not look the same as us or speak different languages,” said Julia.

“I love pro bono work. If money wasn’t a thing, I’d move to a different county, speak Spanish, and do that for the rest of my life. But I really hope to continue to serve those that are in need in the Siouxland community in our region as well,” Julia said.

Besides the foreign language barrier, the clinic is bridging the gap for people who simply can’t afford physical therapy.

“If you’re in a place where you’ve had physical therapy, but you’ve run out of benefits, you qualify for this program. If you’re someone that’s in between jobs and doesn’t have insurance right now or coverage, you qualify for this program. We want to give you the opportunity to get physical therapy to help you with your function or your pain and improve daily living if we’re able to. This is a great way for our students to learn, and a great way for you to get better,” Dr. Wienck said.

If you’re interested in the services provided by the clinic, you can call 712-279-5374 to set up an appointment. The pro bono clinic is open Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.